Problems that are too big may lead to mental blocks about the issues; links

Meta-problems masked by our brain’s self-defense mechanisms of denial of the issue, projecting a sense that our own secure position is the normal one rather than the new minority, or cynical detachment or ironic joking about the topic. Read more: [http://www.fastcoexist.com/3058763/the-biggest-problem-in-the-world-is-our-ability-to-convince-ourselves-there-are-no-problems?]

Focusing on similarities with others has been shown to help reduce negative bias against people of a different race. Which would be a positive way to use our brain’s tendency to project our own status onto the group, see others as all part of the human race for example, might help overcome a slight tendency to favor people of our own race over people with a different racial background. Read more about our tendency towards positive bias – favoring those from a similar group to us, and negative bias – dis-favoring/ not being as helpful to those from a different group: [http://www.psypost.org/2016/04/psychologists-study-find-simple-way-reduce-racial-prejudice-research-42338]

Flags and group logos can make a group seem more unified but may make the group seem more exclusive and intimidating to outsiders. Read more: [http://www.psypost.org/2016/04/study-says-logos-make-group-seem-real-42355]

/Disclaimer: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

Who asks the question may affect both the question and the answer

How to promote more diversity within science research is a question posed in the book “Who’s Asking? Native Science, Western Science, and Science Education,” by Douglas L. Medin and Megan Bang, (2014, Massachusetts Institute of Technology). Our cultural background may impact not only what research studies are funded and performed but also which studies and which scientists are highlighted in textbooks and in science education classes. How science information is presented to students may impact whether they will be motivated to pursue further education in areas of science research.

Books and lectures that focus on researchers and history from Western science may bias the education of students from kindergarten through graduate school and may affect whether students seek further education in scientific topics. The authors of the book “Who’s Asking” present research regarding the idea that the cultural background we receive from our families and communities during our upbringing may create different viewpoints about the role humans have to play within nature. Stories from Native American cultures may place humans more within nature as a part of the greater whole. Stories from Western culture may place humans as separate from the rest of nature or even in a place of more importance than the rest of the natural world.

Within the book “Who’s Asking” (page 209-210) the authors share a list of education design principles which may help with developing a more culturally diverse science curriculum. The list had been hand written on a poster located in the researcher’s meeting room at the American Indian Center in Chicago, and I have slightly paraphrased it here:

  1. Use local, place based instruction and include hands-on experiences;
  2. Link program practices with community participation and try to incorporate practices which include community values, needs, language, and experiences;
  3. Try to see humans as part of nature rather than seeing nature as an externality, apart from humans;
  4. Organize practices around the idea that everything is related and has a role to play in the universe;
  5. Consider phenomena from a seasonal/cyclical perspective;
  6. Place science in an interdisciplinary or holistic perspective and invite the learner to view phenomena from multiple perspectives;
  7. Explore and address the relationships and tensions between Native science and Western science;
  8. And place science in social policy and community contexts that highlight the need for participation and leadership.

A more diverse curriculum may help motivate a more diverse group of students which may be just what our future needs.

We are part of nature, part of the world. Humanity may not be able to survive without the sea creatures that modify sulfur, iodine and selenium found in sea water into a form that can be used on land by humans and other land dwelling lifeforms. [1] We also may not be able to survive as a species if we didn’t have bees to pollinate our crops.

More of us need to start asking who’s going to protect the planet because it is our home, and it provides our air, our water, and our food supply.

Disclaimer: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of Fair Use.

Bias is a part of life that can be difficult to exclude or even to recognize

Words can mean different things to people of different backgrounds. Many words have a variety of meanings or have slightly different meanings depending on how the word is used in conversation. Research teams may seek feedback from a focus group of the target population before proceeding with a planned research study or survey.

The most traditional forms of social science try rigorously to weed out bias. But when studies are consistently designed by one population to use
on a very different population, all the conditions of research become biased. The very words chosen to question people may have quite different meanings to researchers and to people living in extreme poverty.

-Diane Farjour Skelton, p 80, Artisans for Overcoming Poverty [link]

The word bias is also a sewing term used to describe fabric sewn on the bias, or at an angle to the crisscrossing weave of the threads. Fabric sewn on the bias allows for a little more freedom of movement or natural stretch along the seam without the use of elastic. [1] A biased opinion has less freedom of movement, it is skewed by our personal history. Bias reflects our life long expectations of what life is like and it is based on our life experiences. Reading and experiencing a wider variety of things may help combat our tendency to expect everyone to think and react the same as ourselves.

Burlap fabric showing the criss crossing weave of the thread.
Burlap fabric showing the crisscrossing weave of the thread. A typical seam follows the lines of the thread, a seam sewn on the bias is sewn at an angle to the weave.

Disclaimer: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of Fair Use.